I’m especially excited about this one because I’m a sucker for a WWII period film set in Great Britain. It’s familiar territory for a boomer whose British parents both lived through World War II. My father came from Preston in Lancashire, my mother was a Londoner.
Like their fellow Brits, my parents kept calm and carried on. My father was an officer and a gentleman stationed in North Africa. A natural linguist, he’d taught himself to speak not only French, Italian and Spanish but also Arabic. He was invaluable.
My mother, ten years younger than my dad, was just fourteen when the blitz began in 1939. Along with her brothers and hundreds of thousands of British children she was evacuated to the English countryside. Later, returning to London, she worked on the buses, running up and down the double decker stairs, collecting fares, running home at night with the threat of bombs in the air.
My parents met when my dad home on leave near the end of the war. Working at a factory that made munitions or maybe it was truck parts, something, anyway to do with the war, my mother had grown up during those tumultuous war years. Living with rationing, she drew on stocking seams down the back of her legs with black eye pencil, pinched her cheeks for color in lieu of rouge, and bit her lips in place of lipstick. A fourteen year old girl when the blitz began, she was twenty when she met my dad. He was still stationed overseas, helping to run an Italian prisoner of war camp. He swept her off her feet with his fluent French, his fancy footwork on the dance floor and his sheer sophistication. They were married three years later.
Gemma Arterton riding a double decker bus in Their Finest
Both my parents are gone now. My father has been dead for years; he died in 1992, shortly after I introduced him to my now husband. I remember telling him in the hospital I thought I'd finally found the one. Mark and I married later that same year. My mother died in April of 2012. I think of her every time I see a double decker bus.
My husband and I are taking a trip abroad in May, a celebration of 25 years of marriage, starting with a week in London. I was born in Britain but I haven’t been to England since the late eighties. Making the connection to the landscape of my parents’ lives wasn’t as exciting to me then as it is now, not to mention all the places I’ve seen in films and read about in books. I’ll try to take pictures of some of those iconic places and share them here, although since I’ll be on vacation, I won’t be able to post daily. Still, I’ll do my best. I’ll keep calm and carry on. Stick with me?
The characters in Their Finest are doing their best for the war effort, making films designed to strike the patriotic hearts of the British people and boost morale after the blitz. The film, based on the book Their Finest Hour and a Half by Lissa Evans stars Sam Claflin, the dishy quadriplegic patient in Me Before You, Gemma Arterton (Gemma Bovary) and Bill Nighy (Love Actually).
I like to think my parents did their finest too.
Do you share a personal connection to WWII movies? How does the trailer look to you?